We had exchanged emails and knew something about each other, but nothing had prepared me for the welcome I got in Bloomfield, Prince Edward County in September.
Wood turner Paul Ross and his wife, Lynne, are both small people. But their hearts are huge, their smiles wide, her soups delicious and his handshake as firm as the grip you’d expect from a man who spends his days steadying his chisels as they cut into the fast-turning pieces of maple chucked onto his lathe.
Drawn together by 26 Atlantic Crossings, the three of us spent several hours over the weekend of the Prince Edward County Studio Tour, swapping notes on everything from how to learn a craft skill and make a living from it, to the life and wines of this very pretty Ontarian county.
On more than one occasion, our animated conversations were lubricated by some of the product under discussion.
Beauty in wood
It had taken days, weeks and even months of drying, hollowing, turning and decorating to create this very special, smooth-as-silk Star Bound urn, which I had been asked to write about.
As I visited other artists taking part in the Tour, I learned of other endeavours that had stimulated creativity and, in some cases, tested patience and challenged confidence.
The astonishing blue bridge-like item, made by Kirei Samuel of Lalaland Glass Studio from fused glass fragments, involved ideas and techniques that, Kirei told me, had no precedent.
“I went out of my mind trying to figure out how to make it”, she said. “And I was well and truly out of my mind by the time I’d finished it.”
I wasn’t out of my mind when I left Prince Edward County, but there’s no doubt that my sensibilities, like Paul’s maple, had been turned.
My few days in Ontario showed me that, with a little endeavour and a lot of skill, anyone can chip away at life’s obstacles and turn their ideas into tangible objects worth crossing the Atlantic to see.